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Rock Street, San Francisco

Every Sunday morning, I pull up last week’s This American Life podcast on my phone, lace up my running shoes, and begin my trek up Lone Mountain – a heap of dirt, gravel, and rock, sitting isolated amidst suburban wasteland. Reaching the top, I stare out at a lackluster view of Las Vegas’ silhouette, barely distinguishable through the dust and smog shifting with the desert breeze. I look down at the 600ft drop briefly, turn around, and begin my trip back home – only to repeat the same journey next Sunday.There is no breathtaking view or unique wildlife to draw me to my hike: it is the piercing cold air and aggressive terrain that instead excites my core. My Sunday morning hike is a series of struggles: my lungs clambering for oxygen, heart tirelessly pumping blood, and muscles straining to keep up with my pace, but I embrace the struggle. I find my own form of truth and contentment along the uphill journey.It’s my belief that just barely finding the will to take the next step, and then suddenly discovering yourself unable to resist taking another, is among the most unique and surreal experiences a person can have. While my body teeters at the edge of complete collapse, I feel the most alive. The feeling must be akin to what drove Amelia Earhart to new skies aboard the Friendship, or Philippe Petit to the top of the twin towers. It is the challenges – the pain, sweat, and long nights – that inspire those who push the envelope to never slow down. This love for challenges accompanied Earhart to her death, led Petit to bullfighting and carpentry in lieu of fading in his old age, and I to early morning hikes instead of sleeping in.”Each atom of that stone,each mineral flake of that night filled mountain,in itself forms a world.The struggle itself toward heights is enough to fill a man’s heart.One must imagine Sisyphus happy.”~Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus Like Albert Camus, I imagine Sisyphus – condemned to roll a rock up a mountain, only to have it roll back down every time he reaches the top – happy. It is the challenges, struggles, and tribulations that energize Sisyphus and my spirit, not the prospects of reaching the top of the hill.Sisyphus found happiness and the meaning of life in pushing that rock. The meaning of life is simply living it. I live through my hikes, experiencing what life has to offer through getting up each morning and seeking out new challenges. It is where I am happiest, listening to Ira Glass tell me new stories of people I’ve never met, and their own quests for happiness, while I venture out on my own. My hikes remind me that the simple opportunity to take small steps, to look adversity in the eye and to conquer it little by little, is what I value.I believe that life is a perpetual climb, but that does not make me feel hopeless. I am content in knowing that I am like Sisyphus, constantly climbing. In this intrinsically meaningless desert I will create and learn, continue to push this boulder of existence, of life, not because I will reach the top and be done, but because it is in living and understanding suffering in the hardest of times, in my daily struggle to comprehend just how absurd everything is, that I experience the most full and beautiful of life that our human condition can offer. The absurdity of our condition inspires me to make my own meaning of it all – to study life, history, and our place in it.That is why I trudge on – learning, growing, and creating, focusing on the next step and never the last.

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